Archive for March 30th, 2012

Jeffers cases postponed in face of murder appeal

| 30/03/2012 | 0 Comments

Jeffers.jpg(CNS): Two pending murder cases against Raziel Jeffers (28) have been deferred until after his appeal of the conviction handed down last month for murder and attempted murder in connection with a gang related killing in West Bay almost three yearsago. The court heard Friday morning that Jeffers has been granted legal aid in order for his current attorney, Richard Barton,  to take his case to the higher court. The crown had been pushing to set a trial date for the two other cases pending against Jeffers relating to separate fatal shootings that took place in March 2010,  but it conceded Friday that the appeal would have to be heard first.

The prosecuting counsel noted that Jeffers’ appeal focuses on the key witness against him for the murder of Marcus Ebanks and the attempted murder of three other men in Bonaventure Lane. Jeffers was convicted in February of being one of two masked gunmen who opened fire on a group of young men sitting in the West Bay yard in July 2009. During the trial the crown’s case had relied on the testimony of Adryan Powell, who was 14 at the time of the shooting and who is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of his injuries, and that of Jeffers' former lover, 19-year-old Megan Martinez.

The mother of one of Jeffers' children, Martinez told the court during the judge alone trial that Jeffers had confessed to her that he had accidently shot Ebanks and the others when he was actually aiming for Jose Sanchez, a gang rival.

Martinez has also told police that Jeffers confessed other crimes to her during their time together and it is on this evidence that the crown will rely to prosecute Jeffers for the murder of Damion Ming, another gang rival, in Birch Tree Hill and number’s man Marcus Duran in Maliwinas Way.

The crown had attempted to try Jeffers for the shooting of the numbers man last May, alongside a teenager who was also accused of the murder. However, the West Bay teen’s attorney was successful in severing her young client and securing a separate trial.

The West Bay teen was acquitted of shooting as the judge said the crown had not proved the teen was involved in the killing. Justice Charles Quin said there was no evidence that young defendant was part of a joint enterprise to rob the victim or that he had been recruited into the crime by Jeffers.

Prosecuting counsel said Friday that the outcome of Jeffers' appeal would affect the position of the crown in connection with the Duran and Ming murder cases as both depend on the evidence of the same key witness.

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Corruption laws leave gap

| 30/03/2012 | 41 Comments

bribery_1.jpg(CNS): As neither the UK Bribery Act nor Cayman’s Anti-Corruption Law are retroactive, neither piece of legislation can assist the RCIPS in 'certain' investigations, the police commissioner revealed this week. David Baines said local police were faced with “some difficulties” regarding current corruption investigations because the local law started on 1 January 2010 and the UK law, which can apply in Cayman, was also not enforced until that year. Although the police commissioner did not spell out the difficulties or offer any specifics on the investigations he was referring to, he pointed out that despite having two powerful laws at their disposal, the authorities still faced problems with corruption convictions.

Speaking during the question and answer session of Wednesday's Chamber of Commerce 'Be Informed' presentation on the UK Bribery Act and its potential influence here in the Cayman Islands, the islands’ senior police officer said that because the Cayman legislation had not come into force until 2010 and had at the same time repealed previous legislation it had “created some real issues for us”, as the police can only deal with the offences after the date, unlike the UK where old legislation has been left in place to deal with previous offences.

“We have some fairly significant issues that had taken place earlier,” he said, adding that the UK act could have been a way to address them, but although it was modern and appropriate legislation it could not apply to earlier issues either, so there was a gap that needed to be addressed for Cayman-initiated investigations that deal with incidents or offences that occurred before 2010.

The UK bribery act has a long reach, covering anyone with close connections to the UK, including overseas territory subjects with British passports, but, like the Cayman law, it is not retroactive.

Talking about the future and the use Cayman’s own anti-corruption law, the commissioner said that it sanctioned a number of practices that were culturally endemic in the public sector, so training for civil servants was extremely important. He said that when public employees enter data bases now a warning comes up about how the information can be used or released and points to a liability for prosecution if it is misused.

Baines said the police and immigration departments were where the most potential harm could occur but a training document would go out shortly to every public officer.

He said that the Cayman law had envisage not only an anti-corruption commission but an investigative team as well, but no money had been provided for either.

“So I am limited by the number of police officers,” the commissioner said, noting that he could not yet create an independent unit and was using police officers to conduct investigations.

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CG isolated in vote debate

| 30/03/2012 | 103 Comments

cline 2.JPG(CNS): Government back-bench MLA Cline Glidden struggled on Thursday evening to defend the current voting system or why the country would have to wait five years for one man, one vote (OMOV) in the face of so much support. Standing in for the premier at the Generation Now discussion on the introduction of the more democratic and equitable system, Glidden offered little justification for maintaining the current system and stuck to the UDP party line that a referendum before the next election would be too costly. He conceded, however, that if 50 percent of voters signed the petition calling for a November ballot, government would have to re-think its position.

Glidden stepped in at the last minute for the premier, who pulled out of the public roundtable in order to go to Cuba for a meeting with Cayman Airways management and executives. But the West Bay third elected member’s enthusiasm for the status quo appeared lacking compared to his boss, who remains a staunch supporter of the multi-member constituencies. As the only panel member apparently in support of the current system, Glidden admitted that, as a politician, it would be easier to represent a smaller constituency.

The UDP backbencher defended government’s position that it did not have the money for a referendum before the next election. In the face of suggestions to use the ‘nation building fund’ to cover the cost of the national vote in November, Glidden implied that the money was already spent or spoken for.

In his efforts to defend the current voting system, Glidden said demands would come from constituents for more services such as libraries or firestations, but this was dismissed by all of his panel colleagues.

Glidden also suggested that with the introduction of one man, one vote, people could be elected to office on very few votes. No one noted that it is already possible even under the current system for a person to be elected to high office by a very small percentage of the electorate. Glidden’s colleague, Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly, who is the second elected member for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, holds a powerful Cabinet post despite being elected by only 467 voters.

Isolated on the panel in his position and in the face of growing support across the country for the introduction of one man, one vote, Glidden said he was still not convinced that the people he represented wanted the system changed or that they would be better off in a single member constituency. The petition, however, already contains hundreds of signatures from voters in West Bay asking for one man, one vote and also for a referendum this year, not next.

He conceded that the decision was in the hands of the people, which was why the government had committed to a referendum on the issue next year.

But Glidden faced an uphill struggle as Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, Ezzard Miller (the MLA spearheading the petition for the referendum), former Election Boundary Commission member Adrianne Webb and concerned citizen Dick Arch all favoured one man, one vote and said it should be introduced sooner rather than later.

With the exception of one question from the floor about the balance of population in future single member constituencies, the members of the audience contributing to the discussion were also clearly in favour of the introduction of the system before the next election.

Glidden made no argument against the point that one man, one vote is more equitable and more democratic and did not defend the possible situation that could occur in the capital if the premier does not concede to change the system before 2013 of George Towners having six votes at the next election.

Miller urged the people to go and sign the petition and show government that they wanted this system before the next polling date. He pointed out that, despite efforts for more than two decades to introduce one man, one vote, the common denominator that had prevented its implementation was McKeeva Bush.

Anyone wishing to sign the petition click here or visit Four Winds Esso in West Bay, Walkers Road Texaco, Book Nook or Pinnacle Condos on the West Bay Road. The petitioners are within just a few signatures of the 3,800 names required to trigger a people initiated referendum but organisers are still aiming to get close to 50% of the electorate in order to force government’s hand and simple introduce one man, one vote before the next election.

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